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North Carolina 75 - Syracuse 70: Orange Live and Die With Michael Gbinije

Syracuse Orange men's basketball and Michael Gbinije faltered down the stretch in their attempt to pull off a major upset Monday night.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone had to have known who was going to take that last-second potential game-tying shot for Syracuse – the five North Carolina defenders on the floor, both team's benches, the thousands of fans in attendance, and, of course, Syracuse Orange fans watching at home.

So as the seconds dwindled down, it was no surprise the ball ended up in Syracuse starting point guard Michael Gbinije's hands. Syracuse's fearless leader was coming off of a Senior Day performance of the ages against NC State, if there was one man that could lead the Orange to a miraculous come-from-behind upset win, it would be him.

And yet, with Syracuse down by three with just 18 seconds remaining, Gbinije decided to pass up what would have been a game-tying three-pointer to drive into the lane and attempt a closely-defended layup – he missed. Two North Carolina free throws and a missed three-point heave from Malachi Richardson later, and that was it. North Carolina- 75, Syracuse- 70. There would be no Michael Gbinije heroics this time around.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said after the game that the actual play was, in fact, drawn up to get Gbinije a look from behind the arc, rather than have him drive to the basket.

"We had it set up for him to look for a three in transition. I think he felt he had to get all the way. Which, we take a timeout, we foul, and we have a chance to come back. But, you have to use your best judgement there, I think. And he thought he could get to the basket."

While he wasn't able to convert on that last-second layup, Gbinjie was the main reason the Orange were even in position to potentially leave Chapel Hill with the win.

With just over two minutes left in the game, Gbinije took a pass from Richardson in the corner and was able to dribble to his left and shake off North Carolina point guard Marcus Paige to drain his first three-pointer of the night, bringing the Orange to within one and quieting the hostile Tar Heels crowd. Less than two minutes later, after the Tar Heels had extended their lead to 73-68 and appeared to have the game won, Gbinije helped trap Paige allowing Richardson to record the steal and race down the court for the easy layup to bring Syracuse within three with just 44 seconds remaining.

Unfortunately for the Orange, it would be the team's last points of the game.

Gbinije finished the night with 17 points, seven assists, and three rebounds. However, the senior guard also turned the ball over seven times, and was just one-for-six from behind the arc.

While it may not be fair to ask this of any player, it's becoming increasingly evident that Gbinije will need to play as close to perfect as humanly possible – similar to his 34-point, six-assist, four-rebound, and three-block performance against NC State – if Syracuse is to have any hope of making a run in the NCAA Tournament.